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Business Principles

CHICAGO AUTOMOBILE TRADE ASSOCIATION MEMBERS AGREE TO:

  • Promote and maintain honesty and dependability in our business operations and to avoid deception and fraud.
  • Employ truth and accuracy in our advertising and selling of automotive products.
  • Stand by any guarantee given with the sale and service of motor vehicles.
  • Strive constantly to improve our business methods and ethics and to maintain fair competition to the end that the public will be better served.
  • Refrain from the performance of any act which would be injurious or detrimental to the automobile-retailing industry or contrary to the public interest.

Letter from 2018-19 Chairman, Tony Guido

Tony-Guido-CATA-2018-19
2018-19 CATA Chairman and 2020 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Tony Guido
 
DEAR FELLOW CATA MEMBER:
 
I was honored to serve as chairman of this esteemed association for 12 fleeting months. There are lots of moving parts with an association that serves more than 600 members and produces the nation’s largest auto show. Let me highlight some of the activities during my tenure.
 
A new Illinois governor, installed in January 2019 with an ambitious agenda, considered a variety of ways to fund state construction projects. Among them: a reduction of the vendor’s collection allowance, which allows retailers to retain a small percentage of the state sales tax they collect for the service of processing and forwarding the funds to the state. The CATA worked to make sure that idea did not advance.
 
But fees related to vehicle ownership took several blows, as the state’s gasoline tax doubled and title and registration costs increased by about half. Another shoe set to drop Jan. 1, 2020, would limit the tax credit allowance on traded-in vehicles to $10,000 — even if the vehicle is worth more. The CATA is busy showing state legislators what other revenue options to consider so that the trade-in credit cap can be avoided.
 
Illinois Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, came forward again with legislation to effectively open dealerships to sales on Sundays. Dubbed the Religious Equity Act, Oberweis offered that dealers could operate any six days of their choosing each week. Like the previous bills that Oberweis has advanced each of the six years he has been a state senator, the bill never got an up/down vote.
 
The CATA makes its voice heard by important legislators in Springfield. Association lobbyists appealed to lawmakers about the high business costs of operating in Illinois. In response, the state’s maximum documentary service fee increases to $300 effective Jan. 1, 2020. 
 
On the national stage, support of NADA PAC, that dealer association’s lobbying arm, is vital to advance federal legislation important to dealers. Consider that in June 2019, a U.S. Senate bill proposed would ground all used vehicles with an open recall — safety-related or not — for sale or wholesale by a dealer but not a private transaction. Such legislation is overbroad because most recalls do not require the drastic step of grounding, and the NADA is lobbying against it.
 
As powerful hurricanes battered parts of the country in 2018, the Illinois secretary of state’s office began a pilot program that lets Illinois franchised dealers inspect for water damage any used vehicles shown in the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database to be registered in a ZIP code known to have suffered flooding or another disaster. Upon inspection, if the dealer believes the vehicle to be not damaged, the dealer can complete an Affidavit in Lieu of Natural Disaster Disclosure Statement and apply for a clean title.
 
Previously, the only way for an Illinois dealer to avoid a salvage title for such a car was to track down whoever owned the car when the flooding occurred and have the past owner declare on a Natural Disaster Disclosure Statement that the vehicle was not affected by the disaster. The process was even more complicated when dealers obtained vehicles at auctions and the identity of the sought-after owner was withheld.
 
"The old process was unreasonably difficult for dealers and just caused extra work for (secretary of state employees) without real benefit," said Ernie Dannenberger, director of the Illinois secretary of state’s vehicle services department. "We know that new-car dealers don’t deal in flood cars."
 
The second of two collective bargaining agreements affecting area dealers with unionized employees — this time with Teamsters Local 731 — reached a more amicable conclusion in late 2018 than did the negotiations a year earlier with Mechanics Local 701, which represents unionized technicians. While talks extended beyond the Aug. 1 expiration of the four-year contract, 731 workers did not resort to strike. 
 
David Radelet, who has served as the association’s labor relations counsel since 2002, moved with a core team — fellow attorneys Terry Creamer, Chris Jolie, Staci Ketay Rodman, and Jeff Nowak; and legal assistant Mary Dokianos — to a new firm in January 2019, Littler Mendelson. Their services mostly are provided to dealers as a membership benefit, and they remain ready to help with unionized worker issues and general day-to-day employment matters.
 
The CATA board’s Member Benefits Committee, which works to establish and maintain preferred partner relationships with allied members that offer programs with unique value to dealer members and to the CATA, continues to expand. The association this year elevated three credit card processors to recommended status: Dealer Pay, Heartland Payment Systems, and USBank/Elavon-Merchant Services. Also elevated to Approved Member status this year: ACV Auctions, whose full-service marketplace provides wholesale inventory services that save dealerships time and money.
 
In recognizing these organizations, the CATA believes that all dealer members can benefit from the expertise and services the selected organizations provide. Synopses of each of their services and of other preferred partners can be found later in this publication.
 
The association’s 2019 Barbecue for the Troops campaign raised $146,500 largely through USO barbecue fundraisers at 115 area new-car dealerships in July. That brings the total raised over seven years to nearly $900,000, funding that is helping the USO of Illinois serve more than 325,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and military family members annually through three program areas including USO centers, military family programs and community connection programs. My thanks to all dealers who participated!
 
For the past couple years, the CATA’s advertising efforts have operated on a budget of $500,000 for radio buys to communicate themes of the upsides of vehicle leasing and of the benefits of servicing vehicles at new-car dealerships. Through strategic placements and the generosity of the association’s media partners, the budget in 2018 returned a placement value of $3.27 million.
 
At a February 2019 meeting with representatives of the Illinois attorney general’s office and others about dealer advertising, the AG reps said the top infraction against the state’s Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations that they see continues to be dealers selling vehicles at more than their advertised prices. And remember that there can be no such thing as "internet pricing"; vehicles must be advertised at the same price across media.
 
"DriveChicago," the radio show, returned to the airwaves as I began my term as chairman. Hosted by familiar Chicago radio talker Rob Martier and the CATA’s Mark Bilek and Jim OBrill, the show can be heard 8-9 a.m. Saturdays on WLS-AM 890. Tune in as the hosts deliver dynamic coverage of the automotive industry including new-vehicle reviews, in-depth interviews with industry experts, insight into new trends and technologies, and more.
 
DriveChicago.com, the website, highlights more than 120,000 units in member inventories for shoppers to consider. DriveChicago.com also offers expert reviews, shopping tips, and easy-to-use tools to help make auto searches quick and easy.
 
Remember that the minimum wage in Chicago and parts of Cook County increased July 1, 2019, to $13 an hour in Chicago and to $11 an hour in Cook — depending on where people work. Stay up-to-date with all the necessary workplace posters to display. They’re at www.cata.info/resources/workplace_posters. Beginning July 1, 2020 and every July 1 thereafter, the minimum wage will be tied to a cost of living adjustment but will be capped at a 2.5 percent increase
 
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the minimum wage across the rest of Illinois increases to $9.25 an hour. Six months later, on July 1, 2020, the minimum wage will increase to $10.00 an hour. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by $1.00 per hour effective Jan. 1 of each year until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 an hour on Jan. 1, 2025. Indiana’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
 
The association in May presented the 2019 Spirit of Carol Cooling Scholarship to a graduating senior at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. Tyler Delahanty received a $1,000 grant to use toward future studies. The CATA established the scholarship in 2014 to honor Cooling, a Hersey alumna and a longtime special events director at NBC 5 Chicago who succumbed to cancer in 2013. As owner of the Chicago Auto Show, the CATA worked closely with Cooling to produce live TV auto show specials, many of which won Emmy Awards.
 
The CATA board voted to contribute $12,500 to Northwood University to help pay for the school’s $500,000 revamp and update of its automotive marketing curriculum. The National Automobile Dealers Association and several state dealer associations also pledged various support levels.
 
Thanks to Mark Scarpelli for serving on the National Automobile Dealers Association’s board of directors for the past nine years as the director representing dealers in Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties. Mark steps down from that post in February 2020 in favor of Joe Massarelli, president of Liberty Auto City, in Libertyville. I congratulate Joe and wish him success in his expanded role. Downstate dealer Jamie Auffenberg represents Illinois dealers in the state’s 99 other counties. His current term lasts until 2021.
 
During Mark’s tenure, he ascended to NADA chairman in 2017, which was the NADA’s 100th year. (The CATA incorporated in 1904.) Mark previously served nine years on the CATA board, also ascending to chairman of our association and of the Chicago Auto Show — a feat matched previously by his father, Ray, and later by his brother, Ray Jr.
    
I am very proud of and happy for my good friend, Apple Chevrolet principal John Alfirevich, for winning the 2019 Time Dealer of the Year award. The Tinley Park dealer, who beat out 50 other nominees, is the first Illinoisan to win one of the industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors.
 
To all my fellow CATA members, I wish you success in the year ahead!
 
Sincerely,
Tony Guido
2018-2019 Chairman